“Talent is God-given, be humble. Fame is man-given, be grateful. Conceit is self-given, be careful.

— Anonymous

Best Canvas To Buy For The Beginner Artist

Best Canvas To Buy For The Beginner Artist

Here we will cover buying your first canvas for the beginner artist. So your ready to paint your first creation and your standing in the isle probably at your local craft store and you see all those canvas’s, brushes and paints and your overwhelmed. Where to start? What should I buy? No one wants to waste money on your first beginner painting supplies. I was there which seemed not to long ago and I can tell you I get it. These days I don’t how many times I have ran into my local store and am standing next to someone who is standing in the art isle and is just staring. Once they notice me picking up my go to products rather quickly they sometimes will as me if I paint a lot and what I think about a product or what to use and I begin to share. So with out further ado lets get started and I will share here my thoughts on craft store canvases Even though your not ordering online and your just shopping at Michael’s or Hobby Lobby if your just starting Canvases can seem to be quite expensive in the beginning. So lets start with Hobby Lobby. When I first started painting I bought all my canvases at Hobby Lobby. I started with their value canvas package which I believe is a 3 pack or 4 pack. They are a good choice for practicing on as long as you get the value package that doesn’t have the slippery feel to them because your paint will just peal off eventually. If you plan on framing your value canvas its not a bad way to start and can be very affordable. If your plan is to hang your art, sell it or to give it as a gift unframed know that your value canvas will warp not to far into the future. Also there is not much weight to your value canvas which without a frame can feel not worth much even if finished with a lovely piece of your art. My advise is to use these value canvases only in your beginning stages of practice, or for students which they are wonderful for. The next level up at Hobby Lobby is their Master’s Touch Canvas which consists of Hobby Lobby’s main selection. They have two variations the 1/2 inch and the 1 1/2 inch Master’s Touch Canvases with a variation of many sizes which is helpful. You can find them 50% off many times a year. I used to buy them and stock up on them all the time when I graduated from the value canvases until quite a few times I noticed they too were warped. If you do buy them make sure they have the extra wood bars supports in the middle and not just the outside wood frame supports as this gives them more structure strength. Check for any problems with the canvas, ie, dents, a line on the front of the canvas that follows the shape of the wood frame, you don’t want that. Again they are great for starting off with but before you leave the store with them you will need to put your eye on the long side of each corner and make sure they are not warped before you even get out the store. I also recommend that you get the canvas’s from Hobby Lobby that have back staple as to side staples so that once you finish off your sides you have a nice clean look instead of a painted staples look, not a good look. Once you get them home they will need 2 coats of white Gesso to give them a smooth finish and to make it easier to paint on. I also recommend a coat of a background color of your choice so that you don’t see millions of little white holes when looking close at your wonderful new creation. If you are using the 1/2 inch again I recommend you frame them as they also will warp in time. Since it’s expensive to custom frame your art my advise is to walk over to Hobby Lobby’s open frames and pick a size you like and then go back over to the canvas’s and find the canvas size that fits. ( you can also find the frame fastener’s at Hobby Lobby) Not the other way around as Hobby Lobby does not carry every size open frame for each of their canvas’s. So if you buy another size just understand it will need to be custom framed in order for it to keep its shape and help you to enjoy it for much longer. If you purchase the 1 1/2 inch canvas no need to frame, you can paint your sides to give it a nice finished look. I do find the thicker canvases at Hobby Lobby also can warp in time but they are slightly more durable but the larger your size the more greater chance of your canvas warping in time. Once again are they are great for starting out as a beginner painter. I now will move on to Hobby Lobby’s Master’s Touch Cradled Artist Gesso Boards. I love these for small art, they are wonderful for both oil paints and acrylic paints. When painting with acrylics its better to paint in thinner coats though. They take a little practice to paint on but they are wonderful if you need small pieces of art to sell at art show’s or for gifts. They are very sturdy and last a long time, you can also find open frames at Hobby Lobby for some of these as well. Now lets move to Michael’s Canvases. Michael’s has Level 1, 2, 3. Other that the Cradled Artist Gesso Boards which I again love at Hobby Lobby, I buy all my canvas’s at Michael’s stores if I’m not buying on line. They come in a great selection of smalls to very large. Michael’s value canvas would be reviewed by me as the same as a Hobby Lobby Canvas’s in fact I would review their level 1 in the same category as their Master’s Touch as well. Now to the fun part. Once you graduate from value or intermediate canvases you can move to Michael’s level 2 and 3 canvas ‘s which for a store bought canvas I highly recommend both. Their is a slight difference between the two. Level two or red label canvas’s are in my opinion a little rougher that level 3 (green label). Both of these canvases are gallery wrapped which means they have no side or back staples which means you can’t remove the canvas. Back stapled canvas’s allow you to remove an old painting and recover with fresh canvas if you wanted to start over but that’s for a different blog. Back to Michael’s Gallery wrapped 2 and 3. Level 2 is about a half inch in depth and have the extra supports I spoke about before. Both Level 2 and 3 canvas’s come much more taught then all the other canvases which gives you a much better paint surface to paint on. I recommend in my opinion 2 coats of Gesso on the level 2 as I think it would give you a smoother surface ( you can also give it a good sanding to remove any little bumps) and again covering it first with an undercoat color of your choice to keep those little white spots in your painting away. I have had many of level 2’s for quite a while with no signs of warping and have been quite happy with them in general. You can use oil, acrylics, mixed media on these canvas’s and they hold up quite nice. They are much cheaper to ship as they do not weigh as much and you can ship several in a box together as they are thinner. However I again recommend framing these for gifts or gallery’s as they don’t have much weight to them. my thought is that when one is buying a piece of art they want to feel as they got something for their money and people just equate weight with substantial. Now my all time favorite store bought canvases are Michael’s Level 3 Green Label, gallery wrapped canvas. Made with archival-quality natural cotton, this heavy duty canvas is gesso primed so that you can start painting immediately. The medium/rough texture surface is perfect for use with acrylic and oil paints, and the frame is professionally constructed, with medium-weight cotton duck stretched around 1 1/2" profile kiln-dried stretcher bars and held in place with a flexible spline, so artists can paint on all four edges.


  • Available in multiple sizes

  • 1.5" (3.8 cm) depth

  • 15 oz. primed/10 oz. unprimed

  • 100% cotton duck

  • Archival and acid free

  • Professional level 3

  • For use with acrylic and oil paints

    No warping that I have ever found. They come nicely taught and no need to frame you can paint the sides or wrap around you painting as you paint. While always coating with a coat of Gesso or two and an under color is always recommended for better adhesion of your paints I find with these canvases you can paint right onto the canvas and they accept the paint quite well. They give a very professional weighted gallery look when finish and are what you would want to use if you don’t want to order the very expensive online brands and still want to create great works that you can display in a gallery setting or sell at shows. They feel and look like a piece of art one would want to hang in their homes when finished. They are quite expensive but Michael’s has a 40% off coupon you can use and many many times a year they come up 50, 60 even 70% off so that you can stock up on these wonderful canvas’s. So There you have it, what canvases I would recommend for your first canvas purchases. Hope this helps….and happy daily painting!!! Next up Buying Paint For The Beginning Artist.

Becoming An Artist

Becoming An Artist